We caught up with The Ugly Fun after the release of his hotly-acclaimed single ‘Bounce’ to find out what makes the artist tick.
Can you tell us a bit about yourself and the music project?
During our 2 year house arrest, like many, I did a ton of thinking. I basically drove myself crazy about how to get back to doing what I loved and generally course correct for the future. A future I could stand being a part of. I’ve been in a few bands over the years and have spent my fair share of time over dusty tape machines in bedrooms. I live to write music and record music. I wish I had a 40 hour day to devote to it. This project harkens back to my days in those bedrooms. A friend and collaborator said to me “You seem to work well in a test tube “. I think that’s probably true. The Ugly Fun is a project where I work with as many people as I can while attempting to release tracks that are honest and feel good despite the genre. It’s a bit of a hot mess.
You just released your single Bounce – what is the story you are telling with this song?
I guess it is a bit of a story. I grew up in a small town in southern Ontario. Being born in the 70’s meant we had shitty video games and the complete absence of personal devices. We spent a lot of time “Creek walking”, launching ourselves into ravines on cheap BMX bikes and throwing dirt bombs at each other through the half built foundations of the suburbs. I met my closest friend Jonathon during those years. We were inseparable, got into all kinds of trouble. When I moved from that town, I began to slowly lose track of him. By the time the end of high school came around I was narrowly focused on winning the affections of my later-to-be wife Jennifer than managing the relationships of my early childhood. The thing is, those relationships whether you like it or not, form you in many ways. Years later after social media became a thing, I tried to find Jonathon. I’ve spent a number of hours looking online but haven’t found him yet. It’s like he’s on another planet. This song is about how we used to spend our days together. I miss him, or at least the idea of him.
How does this single compare to the others on your EP? What other themes are featured on the other songs?
Well I’m not entirely sure if they will become an EP or a long string of songs but if they do compile into something, there’s a few emotional areas I tread. My next song Slow Life is about a chance encounter with a student at university. We were both in the music program. She ended up killing herself and I just wanted to write her a goodbye. I’ve written several songs about my son. I love him dearly and want the best for him. Child rearing is a scary business. I’m still very much a child. I also dabble lyrically in narratives of shame, or shaming. Another approach I’ve taken in my stuff from time to time is pouring over photographer’s work or artist work. I free verse based on imagery and then find a way back to my experiences or experiences of someone close to me.
What artists do you look up to and how have they influenced the music you create?
I’ll do my best not to ramble on. I grew up listening to progressive rock and metal, moved to new wave and punk rock, lived and performed through the grunge era and studied classical and jazz piano. None of this is impressive or particularly interesting; it’s just what happens once you’ve been on the planet for a number of years. So with that in mind, bands like Depeche Mode, Simple Minds, Joy Division, Public Enemy, Bach, Echo and The Bunnymen, Prefab Sprout, Thomas Dolby, Nirvana, Chavez, even Bill Evans are all tossing around in my brain. I’m currently a massive fan of Tame Impala, like everyone else 🙂 The freedom in that music is intoxicating. Dijon, Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Andy Shauf, BADBADNOTGOOD and RAC are huge influences at the moment but I could literally bore you all day.
What are your thoughts on the indie music scene right now?
I haven’t performed in the indie scene for about 7 years and I would imagine it’s already changed. Labels that we considered “indie” in scale at the time feel more like majors to me now. It feels like music on a platform like Spotify is predominantly indie, even though most of the revenue goes to a small percentage. Isn’t it something like 20,000 singles released a day? Not sure, something ridiculous. We’ve moved from struggling to be even seen or heard, signed to a small label, to drowning in what seems like millions of singles by un-curated artists. It’s hard not to feel very very small and insignificant.
How does your identity interlink with the music you create?
The identity thing is a struggle. I know I’m supposed to be a product, a brand but it’s so boring. Which is why I’m not very good at it. I like to use each song or piece of content as an opportunity to try something out. I can go weeks without posting, another huge no no, but I feel better hacking something together and trying things out than solidifying a singular image. I listen to the song and imagine what might be mildly interesting. There’s much work to be done between my identity and music.